Monday, July 1, 2013

Which Battlefield game is the best? - The Results



As mentioned in this thread what prompted me to create a survey answering the question "Which Battlefield game is the best?" was the comment by a forum user that Battlefield veterans accounted for less than 1% of the gaming population. The number seemed a bit of an exaggeration for sure but knowing whether Battlefield veterans made up a minority or majority of current Battlefield players was a question that plagued my mind.

Since releasing this survey though, E3 has revealed that Battlefield 4 will indeed have a Commander Mode so in some regards it is adopting some gameplay elements from older Battlefield games like Battlefield 2 and Battlefield 2142. This would hint that DICE and EA are listening to a certain cohort of Battlefield fans but it still remains to be seen if it is the right thing to do. Many newer fans to the series have cast doubt on whether the Commander Mode will ruin the game experience.

Why do I mention this? Because the announcement of Commander Mode or BF2-style elements (a major reason behind starting this survey was to see how many fans of this feature there were) does not mean there is no longer any point to this survey. It can instead be used as a litmus test to see if DICE and EA are actually listening to their fans or not.

It’s been almost two months now since I originally created the survey on 6 May and I have received 82 responses. Not quite the turnout I was looking for but it’ll have to do for this analysis. Obviously from the start the sample size is quite small meaning this survey won’t be a truly representative segment of the Battlefield population (but it’s an interesting exercise nonetheless).


Methodology


I decided to use a SurveyMonkey survey to gather results. I only happen to have a basic account which limited the number of responses I could collect to 100. Thankfully this didn't turn out to be an issue as I didn't even receive 100 responses to the survey anyway.

I discussed my survey and encouraged others to comment on it on the following forums:
  • Games.On.Net
  • ABC Good Game
  • Whirlpool
  • Battlefield Google+ Community
  • PC Powerplay
  • Official Battlefield forums

I also talked to friends and family about it too, so all of the respondents are likely to be from these channels. I believe the choice of sources is a good mix although it obviously only captures those who are really passionate about the games in the first place (or else they wouldn't be loitering around an online forum talking about Battlefield). Consequently, there already may be some bias towards the older games in the series as a lot of newer players haven’t invested enough time in the series in order to become attached to a community.

In the following sections I go through the answers to the survey's questions.


Question 1: Which of these was the first Battlefield game you played?


It’s important to realise this question asked which Battlefield was the first Battlefield people have played (not necessarily the earliest of the series that they've played). The reason I asked this question is that first impressions have a lasting effect on people, so the first game in a Battlefield series would greatly influence a respondent's opinion on which direction the series is to head.

In the end, almost half of respondents (40) lists Battlefield 1942 as the first Battlefield game they played. Battlefield 1942 was released in 2002 meaning it’s possible that some of the respondents have been playing the Battlefield series for over a decade (obviously this doesn't take into account when the respondent started playing Battlefield 1942). Coming in second place is Battlefield 2 with 18 respondents or over 20%. Battlefield 2 took the series into the modern setting and introduced Commander Mode to the Battlefield series.

Interestingly only 4 respondents (just under 5%) list Battlefield 3 as the first game they've played. With such a heavy bias towards respondents that have played earlier games in the series (95%) I suspect this would result in stronger opinions about the direction the series takes.

None of the respondents listed Battlefield 1943 or Battlefield Play4Free as their first Battlefield game.

Question 1: Which of these was the first Battlefield game you played?

Question 2: Which of these Battlefield games have you played?


All Battlefield games that were listed have been played by at least one respondent. The least played game out of all of them being Battlefield Online at 13 respondents.

The most played Battlefield game is not surprisingly Battlefield 3 with 75 respondents. Interestingly that means 7 respondents (or about 9%) have not played the latest Battlefield game. BF3 is followed closely behind by Battlefield: Bad Company 2 with 74 respondents.

Consequently a majority of the respondents would have experienced the most recent major Battlefield games (i.e. Bad Company 2 and BF3). Based on popularity you would think that BC2 and BF3 would be rated the best. If they are not then it may be a case of people buying into the franchise for the sake of buying a new Battlefield game.

Question 2: Which of these Battlefield games have you played?

Question 3: Which is your favourite Battlefield game?


If we’re just taking the number of favourite game votes (without taking into account least liked game votes) the big winner is Battlefield 2 at 26 responses or 31.7% of the votes. Coming in second place though is Battlefield 3 with 17 responses or 20.7% of the votes and in third place we have Battlefield: Bad Company 2 with 14 votes. Battlefield Heroes, BF1943 and Battlefield Online received no votes.

If we refer to the results to Question 1, only 4 respondents listed Battlefield 3 as their first game (5%). If you include the games since Battlefield 2142 (the last Battlefield game to have Commander Mode) there were 16 respondents where their first Battlefield game was either Battlefield: Bad Company or a more recent game. This almost correlates with the 17 responses for Battlefield 3. So perhaps this is where all the votes from Battlefield 3 came from. Alternatively, "best" is obviously a subjective term and when talking about FPSs, gameplay isn't the only important aspect but graphics are too. Since Battlefield 3 obviously has the best graphics in the series this may have swayed respondents to pick BF3 on graphics alone (the graphics in some of the older Battlefield games is a bit jarring considering how old they are).

With respect to Battlefield 2 receiving the top vote, there may have been some bias due to a few votes by friends being Battlefield 2 fans – although even without their votes I still believe Battlefield 2 would've been the top choice (although maybe only by a slim margin). Battlefield 2 broke new ground in the Battlefield series thanks to the introduction of Commander Mode introducing a whole new meta-game. I believe this is a major reason for Battlefield 2 still being a favourite and it's interesting to note that Commander Mode is now returning in Battlefield 4.

Question 3: Which is your favourite Battlefield game?

Question 4: Out of the Battlefield games you've played, which is your least liked Battlefield game?


For the best Battlefield game question, there were clear favourites: Battlefield 2, Battlefield 3 and Battlefield: Bad Company 2. With the least liked Battlefield game, every game in the series got at least one vote but there was one that got much more votes than the rest and that was the most recent Battlefield game, Battlefield 3. Battlefield 3 received a massive 23 votes (28%), followed by the casual, free-to-play Battlefield Heroes at 12 votes (14%) and the sci-fi Battlefield 2142 at 10 votes (12%).

Question 4: Out of the Battlefield games you have played, which is your least liked Battlefield game?

You might at this point wonder how can one game be rated the second best Battlefield game yet at the same time be voted the least liked as well? Maybe that is indicative of people having a love-hate relationship with Battlefield 3. There are many things they dislike about the gameplay yet the graphics and the fact it has an active community still means it’s the best Battlefield option at the moment – whether you like it or not.

I decided that with the favourite game votes and the least liked game votes, I could potentially subtract one from the other to get a view on which games were generally well liked and which ones were definitely not. The result is below:

Difference between Best Battlefield game votes and least liked Battlefield game votes

Looking at this chart it appears that Battlefield 2 is a clear winner – but it also shows that Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is quite popular in its own right with modest followings for the original game, Battlefield 1942 and Battlefield Vietnam. The free-to-play, casual Battlefield Heroes is the clear loser with Battlefield 1943 and Battlefield Play4Free being moderately disliked. Battlefield 3 is still shown as being one of the most disliked games but it’s by no means the worst.

Question 5: Do you believe the Battlefield series is improving?


The original purpose of this question was to get a feel of the confidence from respondents that DICE and EA knew what they were doing with each subsequent release of the Battlefield series. The question was intended to gauge on whether respondents thought the series was going downhill or not, since those that tend to say so are a vocal bunch.

The results were really close, with 27 of respondents saying they thought the series was getting worse, 23 saying it was about the same and 18 saying it was getting better. 14 were Unsure.

While a lot of respondents thought the series was getting worse (almost 1/3) that still left 2/3 of respondents that didn't think the series was getting worse or were unsure about it. This would indicate overall fans think the games are still of good or average quality but the vocal minority of disappointed fans is a big minority.

Question 5: Do you believe the Battlefield series is improving?

Question 6: Which game modes do you like in the Battlefield series?


The purpose of this question was to prove a theory I had. If the claims from several that a lot of COD players have migrated to BF3 are true, I suspected that Team Deathmatch would be one of the most popular. I was proven wrong as Conquest, a staple game mode of the Battlefield series, scored 71 votes i.e. 87% of the votes. Half of respondents said they enjoyed the Rush game mode and surprisingly, 21% (or 17 respondents) said they liked Titan mode from BF2142 (a surprising result considering how only 8 listed the game as their favourite).

I must also note that this question was a bit of a learning experience for me. I missed some of the lesser played modes in the Battlefield games and there were some modes I missed because I never played the Battlefield game in question (e.g. Titan mode in BF2142). Consequently, when more than one person commented on a particular mode they liked in the Comments, I then added it as a new option to the question. However this may result in some bias in the results (as the option wasn't there to begin with).

Amongst the remaining results for "Other" modes there was mention of Assault Lines from BF2142 and another respondent mentioning Co-op was their favourite game mode. A third respondent mentioned he/she enjoyed all game modes.

Question 6: Which game modes do you like in the Battlefield series

Question 7: Which features do you believe distinguish the Battlefield series from its competition?


The purpose of this question was to see if Battlefield players thought that Commander Mode was a distinguishing feature of the Battlefield series – or perhaps something else?

It turns out I didn’t really get a definitive answer with almost everything having a decent amount of votes (except authenticity – i.e. voices in native language, realistic language, etc.). This could imply that what makes Battlefield successful is a combination of all its features.

There were 12 "Other" responses too:

  • Three mentioned teamwork, communications and in-game Squad VoIP as being distinguishing features – while this relates to Squad and Class-based gameplay, it was probably a defining feature of the series in the early days and now a staple for the more recent games.
  • Another three responses mentioned Mod support which was prevalent in the earlier Battlefield games but is sadly missing from the more recent ones.
  • Two responses mentioned the gun physics was reasonably realistic, except for the suppression mechanics.
  • One response mentioned that the Battlefield series is not distinct from other games at all as all games have the same features as Battlefield.
  • One response mentioned that the series has Hollywood-style "realism". Since "realism" is in double quotation marks I don’t know if he’s being serious or not.
  • One thing I missed that relates to the more recent games is the destructible environment which one respondent mentioned.
  • And finally, one of the more interesting "other" responses was someone mentioning that the original games with no perks or "CoD BS" was the way to go. I must say that he/she makes a good point.
Question 7: Which features do you believe distinguish the Battlefield series from its competition?

Question 8: Comments


The final question was just a general comments section although I did receive 18 responses. Besides some mistake comments, some "amusing" comments (e.g. "ura faget" and "I like turtles") and some comments where respondents list their favourite game, the most common thread is that the Battlefield series should stop "pandering" to Call of Duty fans and that it should stay true to its original formula.

Caveats


This section summarises the caveats I've made on this analysis:

  • Small sample size means it’s not a truly representative segment of the Battlefield population
  • Friends and clanmates that have answered this survey may skew the result towards Battlefield 2 and Battlefield Bad Company 2 (although I predict at most 10% of responses were from this group)
  • Battlefield players that frequent forums may be biased towards older games in the series compared to newer players
  • Maybe some bias towards traditional game modes like Conquest due to absence of all game modes across the Battlefield series (Other option was always available for this question though).

Conclusion/Findings

  1. A lot of respondents (almost half) played Battlefield 1942 as their first Battlefield game
  2. None of the respondents have played Battlefield 1943 or Battlefield Play4Free as their first Battlefield game
  3. Every Battlefield game has been played by at least one of the respondents
  4. Most respondents have played Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (90%) and Battlefield 3 (91%)
  5. Battlefield 2 is the best Battlefield game using two measures (best game and the difference between best game votes and least-liked game votes)
  6. Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is second best or third best depending on which measure is used.
  7. Battlefield 3 is the least-liked game taking this measure on its own but if you take into account the difference between votes for best game and votes for least-liked game, then Battlefield Heroes is the least-liked game.
  8. Most respondents believe the Battlefield series isn’t getting worse. However, a large minority believes it is (1/3).
  9. Conquest is by far the most popular Battlefield game mode (86%) followed by Rush (52%).
  10. Respondents believe a combination of all Battlefield’s features distinguishes it from the competition
  11. A few respondents have mentioned that the Battlefield series should stop becoming more like Call of Duty.

So what can DICE and EA learn from this? If you make Battlefield 4 more like Battlefield 2 and Battlefield: Bad Company 2 but with Battlefield 3 graphics/animations you can be on to a winner. From what I've seen so far in terms of Battlefield 4’s E3 footage, it seems they’re thankfully heading in the right direction.

1 comment:

  1. I started playing bfbc and thought it was a really good game until bfbc2 came through the door.
    These are the reasons for bfbc:
    bfbc is a great game n' all but needs to be improved.
    As being able to bypass enemy's and having such a high amount of health gives you the advantage of finishing the game straight away.
    That, and it's relatively short at around four hours.
    The game also offers a variate of transport.
    Reasons for bfbc2:
    Again,this is a great game n' all but still, like the first one, needs improving.
    The graphics are way better by bfbc's standards, but still have poor art direction at some parts of the game, For example.
    You are in a bush sniping, and you seem to have this horrible, well, bush!
    But the art direction is poor and quality is low.
    This i can understand as the game is action packed so you would think it wouldn't be noticeable.
    Something else that really bugs you in the game is that the transport only offer first person view,
    I have being in a tank in the game at some point and that offered third person.
    But still, it is the only transport that offers third person, in the first bad company all modes of transport offered both first, and third person view.
    This game doesn't give you a whole lot of health though so you have to come out of battle to regain stamina.
    Online gaming is better than the first bad company.
    But it only offers two game modes of online entertainment and that is surprising as it is a very modern game.
    (With the first bad company i understand as it is an old game and it doesn't look like there will be an update any time soon.)
    Though on bfbc2 it is disappointing.
    The two game modes are rush and conquest.
    (conquest being my favourite by miles!)
    weather more modes are available on the online store i do not know.
    For these reasons bfbc2 is my favourite of the bad company series.

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